Connaught Junior League
Saturday 22 September 2012
Creggs – 12
Ballinasloe – 10
For the second week running Creggs came out the right side of a 2 point margin. Ballinasloe, set to make amends for last week’s surprise loss to Dunmore came blazing out of the blocks and within 4 minutes opened the scoring – a scum infringement handing out-half Paddy Birch an easy penalty chance which he duly converted. A sustained period of pressure followed but the Creggs defence held, notwithstanding a struggling scrum and so so line out. That Ballinasloe failed to add further scores in a first half which ran to almost 50 minutes, was due to heroic defensive work by the home side, notably Kevin Brandon and Trevor Nee in the back row and an impressive debut from young scrum half Enda Gavin who showed his pedigree at the base of a retreating scrum. Gavin, last year’s Connaught Schools scrum half, has opted to play with his father’s old club this season and grew in influence as the game progressed. A rare foray out of defence afforded Noel Flynn a penalty chance half way through the opening period and Flynn slotted between the posts, the first of 4 penalties landed in a flawless place kicking performance. His second on 49 minutes, still in the first half ensured Creggs turned around 6-3 ahead at half time, despite their difficulties in the tight. The opening 10 minutes of the second half was Creggs best period during which they controlled the game, even the set pieces, with Flynn landing a third penalty after 2 minutes and a long range strike on 6 to leave his side 12-3 ahead. It could have been more as a re-shuffled back line now freed from their defensive duties flashed the ball out wide and only a last ditch tackle from full-back Matthew Tierney prevented Nee from going over in the left hand corner. Buoyed by their let off Ballinasloe re-grouped and again laid siege to the Creggs line with their impressive prop JJ Carey crossing for the game’s only try in the sixteenth minute. Scrum half Rory Doolan landed the conversion to leave the game delicately poised at 12-10. And there it stayed. Creggs by now had emptied their bench, 2 substitutions forced by injuries to front rows Mike McAteer and Mattie Corcoran. Ballinasloe introduced their huge no. 8 Brendan Brophy, a man who has caused Creggs plenty of problems in the past but on his first serious charge he was laid low by a daisycutter tackle from Tom Callaghan and that set the pattern for the final quarter. Ballinasloe continued to monopolise possession but were stopped in their tracks by a succession of big hits from Callaghan, Kieran Ryan, David Brandon and back rows Kevin Brandon and Nee continuing their war of attrition all the way to the end. The end, when it came, saw Ballinasloe handed a last chance to snatch victory but Doolan was well off target with a long range penalty in the fifth minute of injury time. Even then, the drama was not quite over with Creggs slow in realising they still had to clear their lines but when they belatedly did so the final whistle sounded.
Creggs are again at home this weekend, playing Castlebar at the Green on Saturday, earlier kick-off at 6.30 pm.
Creggs : D. Brandon, P. Lohan, K. Ryan, T. Callaghan, S. Kilcommons, N. Flynn, E. Gavin, K. Brandon, S. O. Higgins, T. Nee, R. Cassidy, S. Blake, P. McNeill, M. Corcoran, M. McAteer.
Replacements : P. Corcoran, D. Flahive, J. Hughes, L. Mannion, S. Quinn.
Ballinasloe : M. Tierney, C. Loughrey, C. Johnston, K. O’Neill, M. Gibbons, P. Birch, R.. Doolan, N. Staunton, A. Doorley, H. Reynolds, K. Dolan, D. Fenton, T. Dolan, A. O’Hara, J. J. Carey.